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Not every sailing class in Ireland gets a monthly update from its President which opens with a quote from Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. But then, it’s not every Class President who can so readily re-organise his busy working week that he’s able to disappear off into the wide blue yonder at less than 24 hours notice as co-skipper on a MiniTransat 650, campaigning the 320-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.

Yet it’s all in a week’s work, as you might say, for Irish SB20 Class President John Malone of Lough Ree Yacht Club, who was in the front of the queue when the fates were distributing treble doses of lifetime energy. He had sailed just once on Galway Bay with Yannick Lemonnier on the MiniTransat 650 Port of Galway. But last June, with PoG already in Dun Laoghaire and all set to go in the Dingle race, it had looked like no-go for the little boat, as Yannick’s regular co-skipper Dan Mill had sustained a knee injury which wasn’t going to come right within a week, let alone overnight.

Racing a MiniTrasat is highly athletic, and you have to be 200% fit to do it. But regularly racing in an SB20 isn’t exactly a case of lolling about on the lee deck enjoying the sunshine either. So in a stroke of genius, Yannick thought to ring John as a long shot, and he hit the bullseye, getting an instant able shipmate, and at the same time providing the rest of us with the off-the-wall Malone view of what it’s like to race flat-out offshore in a 21ft boat that at times was out-performing boats well over twice her size.

sb20 malone ocoineen2“John Malone shakes hands on big deal with Enda O Coineen” Any business page editor would give his eye teeth to publish a photo with that caption. Yet it just happens to be a different John Malone, but there’s no doubting the legendary strength of the President of the Irish SB20 Class’s pre-Covid-19 handshake grip on Enda at the class’s annual dinner at the beginning of March in the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire. Also in photo are SB20 World Council President Jerry Dowling and prize-winner Jimmy Dowling

So when the latest SB20 missive pinged in this weekend, we wondered what John Malone would think of next. And in his opening Presidential musings on the current crazy situation, he thought that Russia’s revolutionary Lenin was appropriate, and gave it both barrels: “There are decades when nothing happens” said Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, “and there are weeks when decades happen”.

Quite. Make of that what you will, and how it relates to our peculiar times. Some of us aren’t even sure what times those are. A very keen and extremely frustrated sailing man we know asked his wife of many years in their shared lock-down what day it was, and she replied: “ It’s May……I think”.

Anyway, John Malone tell us that recent days have been a period where a decade of progress has been made in the Irish SB20 class in a week, due in no small part to the prodigious negotiating and presentation skills of Justin Burke and his team from the National Yacht Club in securing the SB20 Worlds for the 8th to 15th September 2023.

sb20 prizes3The youngest prize-winning helm in Irish SB20 racing is 16-year-old Ben Graff of Lough Ree YC. He couldn’t be at the dinner, but clubmate Emmet Sheridan (centre) collected the Mephisto Cup on his behalf from Irish Class President John Malone (left) and SB20 World Council President Jerry Dowling.

This reflects the fact that the class’s international programme has been shifted back a clear year, with 2020 - in terms of global events – becoming the Year That Never Was. Thus in the re-invigorated and rapidly-growing Irish SB20 group of travellers, they’re looking forward to the big one in Cascais in Portugal in 2021 (29th August to 3rd September). Then while the worlds of 2022 may be too distant in Singapore, the Europeans at St Petersburg in Russia may tempt, and then suddenly it’s 2023 and everyone’s in Ireland,

But while the international programme may be hyper-reduced or non-existent this year, the Irish class is active right now in developing Online Coaching and Virtual Regatta during May, supported by a grant from Irish Sailing. It starts on the evening of this Tuesday – 8.0pm May 12th – and continues for three weeks in all under the direction of Shane Hughes from North Sails, the agenda for the first night giving us a flavour of it all:

  • 1 Preparation – planning your programme/campaign efficiently
  • 2 Upwind focus – trim & setup, kinetics & weight movement to improve performance, onboard communication
  • 3 Focus on tacks – what elements feed into the perfect tack
  • 4 Windward mark-roundings and sets - straight set or gybe set? Which to go for and why – will include rules discussion.
  • 5 Virtual Regatta – 3 races 

More details and registration from this link - please note that the Training Session is only open to SB20 Class Association members, but up to 4 registrations are allowed per member boat.

As for Actual Sailing In Real Time (I suppose somebody has long since noticed that the acronym for In Real Time is IRL….?) the SB20s will, of course, be afloat and racing as soon as there’s the slightest hint of permission from Sports Ireland and Sailing Ireland while bearing in mind the proven military dictum that you should always be planning, but any rigidly fixed plan never survives the first contact with the enemy.

President Malone rounds out his lively bulletin with fond memories of the class’s annual dinner, which was staged at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in early March just days before the Lockdown, and those present naturally included the SB20 World Council President, for he happens to be Ireland’s own Jerry Dowling, and also celebrity Irish S B20 sailor Enda O'Coineen. This provided a photograph which business page editors might mistakenly leap at, of John Malone giving Enda O'Coineen a very firm handshake. Not the John Malone they would be thinking of, maybe. But there’s no doubting the strength of that handshake.

sb20 prizes4Getting ready to party as if there’s no tomorrow, which in a very real way was true. Former Irish Class President Colin Galvin (right) receives the Sin Bin Trophy for Services to the SB20 Class from Irish President John Malone and World Council President Jerry Dowling at the Irish class’s annual dinner, the last major sailing social event before the Lockdown camped into place.

Published in SB20
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Olympic helmsman, professional sailor and coach Mark Mansfield takes a look at how it may be possible to return to keelboat racing while maintaining social distance onboard.

The latest Government five-phase programme appears to allow the reinstatement of boating and sailing from May the 18th, under certain restrictions.

The RNLI and Coastguard will likewise need to lift their advisory notice as well for this to happen.

Irish Sailing is liaising with the yacht clubs in Ireland and the Government to get clarity on specific aspects of this five-phase plan. In the interim, commencing racing appears to be positioned in Phase 3, which would begin on June the 29th but many sailors are asking; how can this happen under the requirement to also socially distance ourselves from others?

3 mark mansfield3Article author Mark Mansfield sailed the Star keelboat for Ireland at four Olympic Regattas between 1996 and 2004. He is a multi-class Irish keelboat champion

Other sports are also in the same situation with resumption to training planning on commencing in Phase 2 in early June and some matches in Phase 3. Team sports like soccer, Gaelic, hockey, basketball and others have further complications in that they compete directly against opposition at close quarters.

Luckily in sailing, though we are a team sport, our opposition usually is quite a bit away from us. It is therefore in our own hands how, on boats, we can keep our distance when racing. The following are my thoughts on how this can happen successfully, keeping our sport going in these difficult times.

Dinghies that rely on rescue boats when capsized, and two-person dinghies and smaller keelboats will have additional challenges. However, for the purposes of this article, I will concentrate on larger keelboats that have engines to allow them to look after themselves in the event of an emergency.

Raptor 0293Class One boats approach a leeward mark on Dublin Bay in 2019 Photo: Afloat

Fully crewed or shorthanded?

Though there are other options around bubbles, family crew and the like, clearly it will be challenging to sail fully crewed for the first couple of months and still keep the required space between each other. The sight of 8 bodies huddled together on the rail while going upwind on a 35-foot cruiser-racer would not only be regarded as unsafe but irresponsible and would send all the wrong messages.

So, at what crewing levels could racing happen and still keep close to the permitted social distancing levels?

It is possible to specify a max crew level for different sized boats.

Different sized boats have different crewing needs. An SB20 sportsboat, for example, does not need the same crew numbers as a 42-footer. So what crew numbers would be required on different sized boats. Here is my estimate:

  • Up to 26 footers 3 max per boat – Only 2 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 26 foot and up to 31 foot – Max of 4 crew – only 2 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 31 foot and up to 36 foot – Max 5 crew – only 2 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 36 foot and up to 41 foot – Max 6 crew – only 3 allowed to sit over the side
  • Over 41 foot and up to 46 foot – Max 7 crew and only 4 allowed to sit over the side

And so on in 5-foot sized increases.

An amendment to The Notice of Race (NOR) could be inserted for events to make these reduced numbers a requirement, while we still have these restrictions due to COVID 19.

Is this enough crew to race boats with spinnakers?

In the Fastnet Race in 2019, There were 65 entries in the Two-handed class, ranging from 45 footers, down to 30 footers. Most boats were in the 35-foot size range and used spinnakers. Yes they all would have autopilots, and that effectively gives you an extra pair of hands doing sail changes, but that still would mean that they would have had two less crew than my crew size thoughts above.

SB20 1285An SB20 racing under spinnaker in strong breeze with a crew of four on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

SB20

Certain classes, such as the SB20, would still find it challenging to keep a distance with 3 on board, and having spoken to the class, they could see a possibility, if required, to sail with just 2 crew, particularly in light winds. In stronger winds, they may wish to just sail without spinnakers.

1720 2065A 1720 keelboat with a crew of five in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Afloat

1720

The 1720 class has also looked at this, and Class Captain Clive O'Shea told Afloat: "If required, the 1720 class is ideally situated to reduce numbers to allow social distancing while racing. Three crew can keep apart, and we still have the option to go with small spinnakers and small jibs, if needed."

So how would this happen on a typical small cruiser, like a J24 or a medium-sized cruiser-racer like a J109?

J24 racingA J24 in racing mode Photo: Afloat

J24

Three crew could handle a J24; One is helming and trimming the main, one in the cockpit, and one on the bow. The Bowman stays forward of the shrouds; the cockpit person stays away from the helm, up by the hatch. It won't be all that easy, but 30-foot boats like Etchells have similar-sized sails and normally sail with 3.

unnamed 4A fully crewed J109 on Dublin Bay (above) and a two-handed crew on the same model (below)

J109 short handed 

J109

Five on a J109; One on the wheel, staying back a bit. One in the cockpit is trimming the mainsheet but sitting well forward. Helm adjusts the traveller or leaves it in the centre. One sits in the hatch, or on top of the coachroof. The Jib Trimmer sits out, and during tacks, they pull in the new sheet while the Mainsheet Trimmer has let off the old jib sheet. The Bow person sits out forward of the shrouds; jib trimmer sits out to windward, 2 metres back from the Bowman. Downwind more room becomes available as both sides of the boat can accommodate the crew. Andrew Craig, Class Captain of the J109 class in Ireland, says, 'the J109 is well suited to shorthanded racing with the small jib and plenty of space for a reduced number to spread out. The Asymmetrical Spinnaker requires no pole which also makes shorthanded use possible in the right conditions'

White Sails & other options

For those with boats that are harder to sail, or if a crew is not that experienced, there is also the white sails (non-spinnaker) fleet to compete in, until fully crewed racing resumes.

Dublin Bay Sailing Club is the largest yacht racing club in the country with over 250 boats in 20 or so classes. Its Commodore, Johnathon Nicholson has this to add; "Along with the other clubs, DBSC is working with Irish Sailing to create a clear and safe path to get back on the water. We are currently investigating the practicalities of racing short haded with the appropriate physical distancing and when it could be introduced following the guidance provided by the government, Sport Ireland and Irish Sailing".

I appreciate there may be occasions during racing that crew get closer than planned for short periods. This is to be expected, but that will be the situation in virtually all sports that will likely be competing over the next few months. It is incumbent in our sport to come up with a plan to compete as safely as possible. This is just one option, and there will likely be others. Of course, this COVID-19 restriction could be tightened or eased during the next few months, and this proposed plan would then need to be looked at again. Reducing racing crew numbers also decreases the numbers that come back into the clubs allowing easier social distancing ashore.

Ultimately, however, as all sailors know, it is up to each individual skipper and crew to make their own decision about whether to go to sea or not.

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The 2023 SB20 World Championships will be hosted in Ireland by the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, County Dublin.

The successful Irish bid for the event will see the World Championships return to Dublin Bay in September 2023, 15 years after the inaugural world championships were sailed at the NYC in 2008.

That event attracted 136 SB3s drawn from 13 countries and was won by Britain's Geoff Carveth, Roger Gilbert, Roz Allen & Sarah Allan.

More recently, Dun Laoghaire's Royal Irish Yacht Club hosted the successful SB20 European Championships in 2018 when a final race win for Royal St. George's Michael O'Connor, the 2017 SB20 Corinthian World Champion, allowed him to produce the goods again for Ireland by taking third overall.

The plan for 2023 is to achieve the largest ever number of nations attending an SB20 World Championships, according to SB20 Irish President John Malone.

Due to Covid-19 the SB20 Worlds in 2020 (Cascais), 2021 (Singapore) and the Europeans in 2021 (St Petersburg) have all been moved forward by one year, the updated Calendar is as follows:

SB20 World Championships Calendar

  • 2021 Cascais, Portugal (29th of August to 3rd of September)
  • 2022 Singapore
  • 2022 St Petersburg, Russia (European Championships)
  • 2023 Dun Laoghaire, Ireland (National Yacht Club, September)
  • 2024 The Hague, Netherlands (June)
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At the SB20 AGM held this month, the sportsboat class made the decision to change its nomination process for the 2020 ISA All Ireland Sailing Championships.

The SB20 nomination for the 'champion of champions' event will now be based on Traveller Series rankings rather than the result of the class National Championships.

The aim is to encourage the 20-boat fleet to travel to regional events throughout the season.

As Afloat previously reported here, the 2020 All Irelands are scheduled to be held on October 3rd to 4th at Royal Cork YC.

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There's no surprise that the SB20 class is yet another class hoping to join the throng heading to Cork Harbour this summer for Royal Cork's Tricentenary celebrations.

With Southern and Western Championship venues still to be confirmed the Irish sportsboat class has released its 2020 fixtures calendar. (See below)

The season kicks off on May 16/17 with the Eastern Championships at the Royal Irish Yacht Club as part of the new Dun Laoghaire Cup for one designs to include the 1720s & J80s.

SB20 Ireland Calendar 2020

May 16/17 Easterns (Part of DL Cup, SB20, 1720, & J80) Dun Laoghaire (RIYC)
Jun 20/21 Northerns Strangford Lough (SLYC)
Jul 10/11 Southerns (Fri & Sat before Cork Week) *TBC Crosshaven, Cork (RCYC)
Aug 8/9 Westerns *TBC 
Sept 1-5 SB20 Worlds Cascais (Portugal/Lisbon CNC)
Sept 18/19/20 Nationals Athlone (LRYC)
Oct 17/18 Midlands Dromineer (LDYC)

Published in SB20
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Day one of the SB20 World Championships opened with a grey day and raining in Hyeres, France, something the locals refuse to call normal at this time of the year.

Unfortunately, there are no Irish boats competing in the 65-boat world championship fleet this year.

The unstable wind added disappointment to the fleet when the Race Officer Natalie Peberel announced at skippers briefing the maximum of four races today.

When the fleet arrived at the starting line by 11:00 the 30 degrees shifts didn't allow to call racing and it took about 40 minutes for the RC to call Race 1. It has started at a slow pace with light wind of 5-6 knots from the South.

After a bit of waiting, the RC called Race 2, that started wit ha general recall. On the first upwind almost at the rounding of the first boats November flag was displayed, sending the boats back to the starting line. The wind has stopped completely, and after boats got back to the start the AP over H was displayed which meant the RC was still hoping for racing today.

Overall for the opening day the strong lead is from Russian and Australian teams, Portuguese boats Dom Pedro & Animal/SailCascais chose the left side and despite that Vasco Serpa managed to finish 15th.

The all-female Youth team from Australia - Essence of Athena had a good start and were within top 15 boats on the first rounding.

Overall in Top 10 we see a strong Russian and Australian domination with the only UK boat being Breaking Bod of Charles Whelan.

For the coming days, the fleet are expecting a storm coming with winds up to 40 knots on Wednesday, so Tuesday's racing is likely to be pushed earlier in the day to try and catch some racing in the morning.

Results here

Published in SB20
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There was fun on and off the water for SB20s at the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta season finale in Lough Derg Yacht Club last weekend writes Class President John Malone.

Fabulous weather, great race management lead by Geoff O'Donoghue and legendary hospitality in the Whiskey Still and dinner in LDYC on sat night.

It was great to see six all new crews in the fleet racing at their 1st open event. Strictly Business (Eoin Leahy, Donie Herraghty & Emmet Ryan) was the top boat of the new crews managing to score a 3rd in the Penultimate on Sunday morning & 6th overall - a team to watch next season - Eoin was SB20 national champion in the classes debut season in Ireland, he has now switched from middle to the back of the boat. Donie is a previous SB20 owner with Martin McNamara who now has taken the reigns of Sharkbait with co-owner Jude Kilmartin.

SB20 Dorans1st Overall, Low Fly/3426 Paul Doran, Philip Doran, John Malone (SB20 President), Bella Morehead, Tadg Murphy (LDYC Commodore), Simon Doran

Lough Derg now has seven boats being sailed out of 3 sailing centres - Domineer, Mount Shannon & Garrykennedy, Sonic Boom/3309/Iniscealtra Sailing Club helmed by Andrew Decan & crewed by McElligott Brothers Brian and Conor finished in 8th Overall and were the Top ranking boat from Lough Derg. Scorpio Beg/3475 Sailed by Dominic O'Sullivan, B Bryce and D Coleman were leading this local battle overnight but were unfortunate to find rig damage on Sunday morning following a Rig Tangle with Strictly Business at Leeward Mark were 4 Boats rafted up at a leeward mark with less than enough room for all to round in comfort.

Silver prize SB20Silver Champion was the Ladies Team Lia, Joe Gilmartin (Vice Commodore LDYC), Flore Dion, Sarah Byrne (holding Cup), Elaine Malcolm, Tadg Murphy (LDYC Commodore)

The Winter Series in Lough Ree Yacht Club will commence in November, with eight boats expected to be based there in 2020

Overall results attached below

Published in SB20
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Royal St. George Yacht Club's Michael O'Connor sailing with Davy Taylor of the SB20 class has won the All-Ireland Sailing Championship 2019. 

As north-west winds blew to over 20-knots the championship was decided over short sharp races inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour this afternoon under Race Officer Jack Roy, the Irish Sailing President. 

The championships were raced in the Flying Fifteen keelboat and drew a fleet of 16 invited champion sailors from across the Irish yacht racing scene as Afloat reported here.

It is the second year in a row that the All Ireland Sailing title has been won by the SB20 nominee. 

Second overall was Northern Ireland RS400 ace Robert Espey. Third was Greystones Sailing Club's Shane MacCarthy representing the GP14 class. Full results below.

After a qualification round on Saturday, the final day’s racing was moved from Dublin Bay to the more sheltered Dun Laoghaire Harbour due to strong and gusting winds.

The four-race final round was a close-fought affair over two hours which eventually saw O’Connor pitted against Robert Espey, the RS400 class nominee from Ballyholme. However, the Dun Laoghaire sailor received a jury penalty turn and finished sixth while the Bangor helm had gear damage and was awarded average points for that race depending on the rest of the series.

Michael OConnor TaylorMichael O'Connor (right) of the Royal St. George Yacht Club emerged as overall winner of the coveted 'champion of champion' titles for 2019 with crew Davy Taylor Photo: Irish Sailing/David Branigan

The whole championship hinged on the final race with just under three points separating first and second places. O’Connor had recovered form after the opening final round race to deliver two race wins with Espey close behind.

Just under three points separated the pair going into the final race. O’Connor started poorly while Espey was heading for a second place; the standings looked set to be up-ended. But O’Connor fought his way back up the fleet in the 20-minute race and took third place and the overall title with one point to spare.

While Espey and his Olympic veteran crew Stephen Milne were first runner-up, Shane McCarthy with Stephen Boyle of the GP14 class were in close contention in third place.

The Flying 15 class hosted the event with boats loaned by their owners and the class national champion David Gorman with Chris Doorly featured in the final series to place seventh overall.

All Ireland sailing 0192Racing was held in the confines of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Afloat

Final All Ireland Results 2019

Sail No. Helm Bib Class R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Dis Total   Place
3920 Michael O'Connor K SB20 1 2 1 6 1 1 3 6 9   1
3995 Robert Espey B RS400 1 2 1 3 RDG 2 2 2 3 10   2
3688 Shane MacCarthy N GP14 2 1 4 2 5 3 1 5 13   3
3837 John Sheehy I Team Racing 3 5 2 1 3 4 RDG 2 5 15   4
3913 Sean Craig D Laser Radial 3 3 3 5 2 5 RDG 4  5 20   5
3938 David Gorman C Flying Fifteen 4 4 2 7 4 8 5 8 26   7
3774 Colm O'Flaherty O J24 5 1 5 4 6 6 SCP 9 9 27   6
3845 Ronan Wallace J Laser Standard 2 3 4 8 7 7 4 8 27   8
Published in All Irelands
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Lough Derg Yacht Club is hosting its annual keelboat regatta on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of October. The event will be a wrap up to the season for many of the competitors and over 50 entries are expected from three classes - making it one of the biggest sailing events of the year on the Shannon.

The big attraction for many sailors is the beautiful autumnal setting of Lough Derg but also the opportunity to thoroughly wash the boat out in freshwater at the end of the season. 

The Squibs will be welcoming visitors from the UK as well as Belfast, Strangford Lough, Howth, Kinsale and Dun Laoghaire. As Afloat reported earlier, Kinsale Yacht Club will be promoting their UK and Irish Nationals which are being held in June 2020.

Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and his daughter Jill have indicated they will compete as will UK champion Dick Batt. Squib stalwart Vincent Delany, second in the recent Irish Nationals, is also sailing as is Irish Champions Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan from Royal North. 

The SB20s have just announced that the Irish Nationals will be hosted in Lough Ree in Sept 2020 and a good fleet is expected - including Lough Derg and Lough Ree entries.

The Flying Fifteen fleet, who have just completed a World Championship in Dun Laoghaire are also reported to be travelling to Dromineer in numbers, just a week after the class hosts the All Ireland Sailing Championships at the National Yacht Club. It may be the only winter sailing for the FF's at Dun Laoghaire Harbour given the current winter hard standing woes currently in place.

Unfortunately, the Dragons this year are not competing due to 90th birthday celebrations in Italy where nine Irish boats are competing.

Published in Inland Waterways

Irish SB20 Champion Jerry Dowling will travel to the class World Championships in Hyeres next month to be appointed SB20 World Council Chairman. 

The international honour for the Irish one-design sailor comes with the unanimous support of the World Council and the stepping down of past chair Ed Russo.

Dowling is well known in the class as a former Irish Class President and a multiple holder of the National Championships title and Rear Commodore Sailing of the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay.

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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